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Heavy Friends
Saturday June 10th, 2023 with Heavy Ben

Via deft handling of repetition, drone, and noise, Loop's album "Eternal (The Singles 1988)" is one of the most influential albums on my musical journey. On tonight's program, we wish a happy 58th birthday to Robert Hampson, born on this date in 1965 in London, England. We'll be doing a deep dive into the catalog of Loop, the band that Hampson formed at the age of 20 in 1985. Though Loop was around for only 5 years, their influence - especially on me personally - is huge. It served as my introduction to a particular lineage of rock that is psychedelic, spacey, noisy and repetitive. Loop were shoegaze before shoegaze. The vocals were buried behind distorted guitars, song structure was loose, with less emphasis on technical skill than exploring drones and sound itself. Alongside British contemporaries Spacemen 3, The Jesus And Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, Loop re-introduced a degree of experimentation back into rock music in the mid/late 1980s. Progressive rock had fallen out of fashion a decade earlier, as exemplified by The Sex Pistols' John Lydon adding the words "I HATE" on a Pink Floyd t-shirt. Punk rock, then new wave and synth pop, refreshingly stripped away the 1970s showy musicianship and exaggerated sense of importance. In a clever twist, Loop et al. continued the move away from pompous rock music, yet went back to the 1970s for inspiration. Perhaps not deliberately, they nonetheless cherry-picked the ultimate attributes (repetition, noise, experimentation, minimalism) from the leading bands (Can, Hawkwind, The Velvet Underground, Suicide, 13th Floor Elevators, Faust, The Stooges) and crafted these avant garde virtues into something resembling pop music. This was an obvious precursor to Swervedriver, Stereolab, Spiritualized, and much of the 1990s shoegaze and post-rock. Turns out it's okay to have guitars and play loud, without being a rock star or a guitar hero. It's easy to take this all for granted now. Innumerable bands in 2023 are playing noisy, droney, psychedelic, shoegazey, space rock, acknowledging Krautrock and avant garde influences. But in 1988, it was extremely rare. And so when I first heard tonight's leadoff track "Collision", I was hooked. I did not know the history, or appreciate the chance meeting for that record to end up in my hands, but it set off a lifetime of exploration. A big part of that exploration was bands that Loop played cover versions of: Suicide, Can, The Pop Group, Nick Drake, and even Neil Young. Young aside, you just did not hear that music being played in the 80s and 90s. Likewise, once you get a taste for drone and repetition, one's ears are prone to seduction by minimalism, Krautrock, Afrobeat, electronic dance music, dub reggae, and Hindustani classical music. After Loop split in 1990, singer and guitarist Robert Hampson and guitarist Scott Dawson released experimental ambient music as Main. Hampson also played with Godflesh, Wire guitarist Bruce Gilbert, with Janek Schaefer as Comae, and recorded at the Paris-based musique concrète studio GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales). Drummer John Willis and bassist Neil Mackay formed Hair & Skin Trading Co. Ironically, minus Loop's two guitar players, their first two albums sound more like Loop than Hampson's Main, before venturing into Faust-tapes like territory with their third album, 1995's "Psychedelische Musique (Lava Surf Kunst)". To everyone's surprise, Loop reformed in 2013 for live shows, released an EP in 2015, then an album in 2022 - 33 years after 1989's "A Gilded Eternity". Likewise, Hair & Skin Trading Company re-grouped for a full length album in 2020. Turn it up, bring the repetitive noise! (to embiggen the show icon, right-click and choose "Open image in new tab")
Loop - Collision 12" - Chapter 22 - 1988
Loop - Wolf Flow (The John Peel Sessions (1987-90)) - Reactor - 1991 (rec. 1988)
I'll Take You There
Loop - Spinning - Head - 1987
Hair & Skin Trading Company - Psychedelische Musique (Lava Surf Kunst) - Freek - 1995
Time Over (Dub)
Main - Hydra - Situation Two - 1991
Bruce Gilbert / Robert Hampson / Paul Kendall - Orr - Mute - 1996
Loop - Sonancy - Reactor - 2022
Hair & Skin Trading Company - I Don't Know Where You Get Those Funny Ideas From - Escape Velocity - 2020
Loop - A Gilded Eternity - Situation Two - 1989
Mother Sky
Loop [orig. Can] - Black Sun 12" - Chapter 22 - 1988
Dry Stone Feed
Main - Dry Stone Feed - Beggars Banquet - 1993
Head On
Loop - 16 Dreams - Head - 1986
Crawling Heart
Loop - Eternal (The Singles 1988) - Chapter 22 - 1989
Fade Out
Loop - Fade Out - Chapter 22 - 1988
Go Round
Hair & Skin Trading Company feat. Laetitia Sadier - Over Valence - Beggars Banquet - 1993
Loop - Array 1 - ATP Recordings - 2015
Haloform Part III
Main - Hz - Beggars Banquet - 1996
Arc-Lite (Sonar)
Loop - 7" - Situation Two - 1989
Heaven's End
Loop - Heaven's End - Head - 1987
Main - Motion Pool - Beggars Banquet - 1994
Godflesh feat. Robert Hampson - Merciless - Earache - 1994
Hair & Skin Trading Company - Jo In Nine G Hell - Situation Two - 1992
Interactive CKCU
Ben Armstrong (host)
If you missed drone day, this will do the trick

8:16 PM, June 10th, 2023
Hello Heavy Ben, enjoying the music

8:31 PM, June 10th, 2023
Ben Armstrong (host)
Hi Wally, thanks for letting me know.

8:36 PM, June 10th, 2023
Chris I.
Cool sounds. Thanks Ben.

9:04 PM, June 10th, 2023
Ben Armstrong (host)
Glad you're digging the sounds, Chris

9:06 PM, June 10th, 2023
These guys really let it rip out of control , that’s the way I like it, thanks for keeping us in the Loop Ben. Hey Wally!

9:10 PM, June 10th, 2023
Ben Armstrong (host)
I'll take you there, Eddy

9:16 PM, June 10th, 2023
Hey Eddy 👋

9:18 PM, June 10th, 2023
One of the guys who played in Loop (H.O. Morgan) recently released an album with Davey Woodward as the band Karen but it's not much like Loop

9:26 PM, June 10th, 2023
Ben Armstrong (host)
Thanks for the tip, Wally. I do like The Heads, of which H.O. (Hugo) Morgan is a member

9:33 PM, June 10th, 2023
Tuning in late, our bad! Love Loop. Thought their 2022 album was excellent. The Quietus also enjoyed it ;) Keep the space kraut groove vibes comin.

9:40 PM, June 10th, 2023
Ben Armstrong (host)
Thanks Wally, Chris I, Eddy, and Dandy for chiming in. LOOP on...

9:56 PM, June 10th, 2023
me too, dug, thanks !

10:04 PM, June 10th, 2023